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MONDAY, JANUARY 31,2011

• Exploring the goldmine In cashew nuts processing

BIG ftaira

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Sioall Kobo Emeka Ezekiel NE of the major thrusts of the Federal Government's policy on diversifying the nation's economy is to develop the nonoil sector, especially agro-commodities. The policy entails providing the enabling environment for Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs to provide value-added services

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in agro-commodities for domestic use and for export.

According to experts, one of the agrocommodities that offer a lot of money making opportunities for SMEs, owing chiefly to the favourable government policy is cashew nuts,

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adding that money making opportunities abound for willing

Development. in its report on investment opportunities in

cashew nuts in Nigeria, says, "The cashew nut subsector has not suffered from unfavourable government policies. Currently, no t a x e s are charged on export; but rather, export incentives are available to exporters of cashew nuts. "Nigeria's 120 million people offer a large domestic market for cashew nuts processing. Middle and high income groups mainly l'_-::".I!IlII~-l"-'t::!""""'''' consume cashew nuts and the flavoured and branded nuts sold in supermarkets. The unbranded cashew, sold at the traffic hold-ups and local stores. is popular because it is cheap," the report added According to the latest edition of the West Africa Trade Hub Technical Report, No. 22h, published by the United States Agency for International Development. Nigeria has the largest potential market for cashew products in the region. The report says."Cashews are a well-developed products in Nigeria, found in ,p. wide variety of venues not seen in other West African countries, including airlines and hotel minibars. The market for cashews is growing steadily in high-end segments of the Nigerian economy, due to record oil revenues and general economic growth." It stresses that currently, "Nigeria is a mid-priced producer, cheaper than Cote d'fvoire, Ghana and Senegal, and equivalent to Benin, despite generally higher urban prices. This is due to the low cost of raw cashew nuts; efficiencies created by Nigeria's larger cashew factories and greater use of

entrepreneurs.

N.-ger.-a has a large market: for cashew products

He says," Investment opportunities in cashew processing are quite enormous, considering the entire value of cashew .The fruits can be crushed into pulp and used for making fruit juice. This is one of the profitable ventures, which have ye· to , be fully tapped in Nigeria. f.. "Also. cashew nuts can be converted into snacks with different flavours This is another investment opportunity. Cashew seeds • 0 0 have high export value because it is highly sought after abroad People can invest in this area by adding value to it. following which - .'- '",".' "" it can be exported to other broken grades in high-value supermarket products." countries. When you crush The report adds. "Cashews are widely distributed in major 0/ State hoiels in Nigeria. They are sold through hotel mini-bars and Commerce and Industry, the seeds. you can Lise it to produce a lot of thmgs. gift shops and are used in cooking. Retail prices are high, but Mrs. Josephine Tapgun including fertilizer if you products still sell well. Currently, 33 per cent of luxury hotels mix it with other things. are interested in packaging cashews under their own label but He explains further, "In fact, even in fortification, when you no one is doing this yet." combine it with other products like soya beans. Also, it can be Currently, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council has used to produce animal feeds because of its nutritional value. been undertaking various activities to promote the export of In terms of availability, you can get cashew nuts allover the cashew nuts. These include participation in trade fairs and country, especially in Kogi, Benue, Jigawa, Enugu and Abia exhibitions. states." Also, NEPC provides exporters with export promotion tools, In order to encourage small and medium entrepreneurs to such as product profiles, products, catalogues and brochures, invest in cashew processing in Nigeria, he says that the Feder~! '''p \ posters on specific products or product groups, including Government is working out arrangements towards partnering •. cashew nuts. with entrepreneurs to establish new cashew processing The Director-General, Raw Materials Research and plants across the country. under a Public Private Partnership Development Council, Prof. Peter Onwalu, says the entire arrangement. He adds that additional technical support would be provided for genuine entrepreneurs willing to invest in cashew processing in Nigeria. He says, "We are currently promoting the establishment of cashew processIng clusters under a Public Private Partnership capacity building, problem of packaging, power and preference of arrangement. We will provide the factory Simeon Utebor Nigerians for imported goods. machines and training while the entrepreneur He said that if the government believed that SMEs were the will provide the land and expertise for HE Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists has called on the Federal Government to make available single digit interest loans key to economic development, it should give grants, incentives, managing the business. In this regard, we will for Small and Medium Enterprise operators to enable them remain in subsidies for capacity bUilding and assist in the marketing of SME provide the technology required to drive the products. . business. Also, the Chairman, NASSI, Lagos State, Mr. Segun Kuh- business. The National Vice-President, NASSI, South-West, Mr. Duro Kuteyi, "The Raw Materials Research and George, said that the business environment in Nigeria was made the call at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos on Friday. inclement, stressing that for a small businesses to succeed, they Development Council is targeting the Kuteyi said. 'The interest rate for SME loan is higher than that of had to grapple with challenges of renting office spaces, security, establishment of 10 cashew processing the multi-national companies. The SMEs are engines for economic power and dearth of funds, among others. plants in Nigeria before the end of 2012, as development of any country and the Federal Government can only He said that because of the challenges facing SME operations, part of our contribution towards S'Jpporting guarantee their survival by making the business environment friendly the contribution of the sector to the Gross Domestic Product was the development and growth of small and through reduction of taxes and making interest on loans a single digit." less than 20 per cent compared with 60 per cent or more in the medium scale industrial dusters across the He also outlined some of the challenges affecting the sector to include United States and other developed economies of the world country."

Retail price§ of cashew are high NEP C f fer sex p r t promotion guide

Spotlight: Small and mediumMsized business NASSI clamours for single digit SME loans

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THE PUNCH, 31 JANUARY, 2011